Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Natural birth...what you need to know

·         Babies born naturally are usually born when they are ready. Elective caesareans typically take place a week or two before the expected due date. However, many babies if left to be born naturally are born at 41 or 42 weeks. If there was any miscalculation, a baby removed surgically could be at risk for prematurity and encounter respiratory problems as a result of under-developed lungs.          

·         Babies born by vaginal birth have considerable lower risk of respiratory problems. The compression of the baby’s thorax expels the amniotic fluid during the birth process and helps to prepare the lungs to breathe air. There is a high risk of respiratory distress syndrome in babies born by cesarean and a high risk of asthma.·          

·         The passage through the birth canal stimulates the baby’s cardiovascular system, which boosts blood circulation and primes the baby for birth. There is evidence that this process also has long term benefits for the baby’s co-ordination. Cranial osteopaths are reported to be able to determine whether a baby was born vaginally or by caesarean.·          

·         Babies born vaginally receive protective bacteria as they pass through the birth canal. These bacteria colonise in the intestine and are crucial for developing a balanced immune system, from childhood right through to adulthood.          

·         During a natural, vaginal birth babies benefit from hormonal surges in catecholamines during labor, which results in them being more alert and able to connect with their mothers at birth.          

·         Similarly, endorphins, nature’s ‘feel-good hormones, which are secreted during an unmedicated childbirth have been found in the placenta and umbilical cord. These hormones may help the baby adjust to life outside the womb as well as make the birth passage more comfortable for baby.          

·         Babies born by vaginal birth exhibit more interest in pre-breastfeeding behaviours such as sucking and massaging the mother's breasts. They are also reported to nurse for longer periods within the first 90 minutes after birth, which has many benefits for both the mother and the baby.
·         A European study in 2008 found that babies born vaginally had a 20% lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes than babies born surgically.          

·         The process of labor is reported to enable babies born vaginally to cope with stress better than those born dramatically by cesarean. Cesarean birth triggers a dramatic stress response which could set up a child to always over-respond to stress.
·         If the vaginal birth was drug-free, the baby will not experience any side-effects of medication administered during the process.         

·         Skin-to-skin contact between the mother and baby can occur easily after a natural birth. This has many physiological benefits to the baby including optimal brain development as well as better attachment and breastfeeding success.          

·         Newborns are less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit if delivered vaginally.
Most babies born after 36 weeks are able to display all the following responses and reflexes. Babies born prematurely can have immature reflexes, sometimes contributing to them spending time in the Intensive Care Nursery. 

The normal reflexes and responses of a newborn baby can include: 

Rooting reflex
Sucking and swallowing
Gag reflex
'Startle' or Moro reflex
Crawling reflex
Grasping reflex
Walking and stepping

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